Lara Arruabarrena, winning return at Foro Italico. Former tennis player: “With padel I feel like a 15-year-old again”July 11, 2023
Foro Italico is not new for her, as she had already known it as a tennis player and even played double there with Italian Sara Errani. But Spain's Lara Arruabarrena, a former tennis player and winner of ten Wta titles between singles and doubles, is nonetheless a picture of satisfaction after her victorious debut with compatriot Sara Pujals at the BNL Italy Major Premier Padel. In the Rome tournament, which marks the women's "baptism" on the world's most prestigious circuit, the two Spanish players got the best in three sets of Caterina Baldi and Valentina Tommasi from Italy. Arruabarrena has no problem admitting padel has given her back the motivations she thought she had lost. "I had the feeling that my experience with tennis was somehow over, I could no longer find motivation and goals in this sport", says the Spaniard, who reached number 52 as a career best ranking (8 in doubles), after the winning debut, "That's why more or less a year and a half ago I quit. But then I started with padel and I started having so much fun again. I told myself that I would give everything to reach the highest level, in October last year I started with competitive activity. I usually play indoor, so the ball doesn't move that way and the conditions are different. But I really enjoy it, I feel like a child again...I've found goals and motivations, it's a new thing and I feel like a 15-year-old again!". Baldi and Tommasi, to whom the organizers granted a wild-card, proved to be a tough nut to crack, but now the bar is going to be raised with the Round of 32 match against Alix Collombon and Victoria Iglesias, seeded number 10 in the draw. "I usually train with Collombon, so we know each other very well", Arruabarrena stresses, "We want to have fun, the pressure will be on them because they are seeded and we will play free mentally. But we will give everything to try to have fun and win". With Rome, the Spaniard has not lost the bond she created when she was still playing tennis. "When we knew we were going to play at Foro Italico, I was aware of how a special place it was because I had been here before", she admits, "I know the location, I know everything here. Especially the 'Nicola Pietrangeli' is a court that I like very much, so when I saw the order of play on Monday I was happy to play here because I have wonderful memories. It was difficult to face two Italians, they play at home and the crowd was obviously on their side. But somehow we managed to win, they played very well and it was tough. But we are happy to go through".